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Chester County Democrats and Republicans Endorse Candidates for May Primary

This year local races for positions like county commissioners, judges, and school board members are in contention, along with statewide judgeships, including a state Supreme Court justice. With the primary fast approaching on May 16, the county political parties are vetting candidates and making endorsements.

Both the Chester County Democrats and Republicans endorsed candidates on Feb. 15.

With Democratic County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz and Josh Maxwell running for re-election, they garnered their party’s endorsement for spots on the three-seat board.  On the Republican side, Commissioner Michelle Kichline is not running again, so Dave Sommers, a teacher, and former state Rep. Eric Roe received the GOP nod.

“I’m honored to have the support and confidence of the Republican Party, and I’ll run a campaign that our Republican voters can be proud of,” said Roe. “I am running on my track record of open space preservation, fiscal restraint, and empowering those in the shadows. That’s what I did as a state legislator, and that’s what I’ll do in the county courthouse.”

Sommers said, “I am humbled to receive the committee’s endorsement to be one of your next county commissioners. The faith committee members have placed in me and our entire slate of candidates representing conservative, common-sense approaches to governing is greatly appreciated. ”

Maxwell said, “I’m excited to be running for reelection in a community I’ve called home my entire life. This is a special county, and I look forward to talking to neighbors throughout the year to try and earn their support.”

And Chairwoman Moscowitz added, “I’m running for re-election because I love this community, and I’m dedicated to building on the progress we’ve made in our first term. As the first Democratic majority in the history of our county, we’ve shown that Democrats can govern and deliver.

“We now have the lowest unemployment rate in the region, we’re restoring access to public transportation, we have begun increasing affordable/attainable housing, and we’ve made historic investments to preserve our open space. There is so much more work to be done, and I’m ready to continue serving the place I’ve called home for nearly 40 years,” she said.

Chester County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte Valyo stressed the importance of the endorsement process, especially given that she expects cross-filing Republicans on the May 16 Democratic Primary Election ballot for non-political races. She also noted the recent election successes of Democratic candidates across the county, leading to several competitive primary races.

For statewide races, the Democratic committee endorsed Dan McCaffrey for state Supreme Court; Jill Beck and Judge Tamika Lane for Superior Court; and Judge Matt Wolf for Commonwealth Court.

Republican Chair Raffi Terzian said the Pennsylvania GOP endorsed the statewide judicial candidates, so the county committee does not vote on them. These are Judge Carolyn Carluccio for the State Supreme Court, Judge Harry Smail and Maria Battista for Superior Court, and Megan Martin for Commonwealth Court.

For Chester County Common Pleas judgeships, Republicans selected: David Black, Donald Kohler, Judge Lou Mincarelli, PJ Redmond, and Andy Rongaus.  The Republicans also endorsed candidates for District Court Magistrate: District Court 15-3-01 Judge John Hipple; District Court 15-3-04 Peter Mylonas; District Court 15-3-05 Judge Scott Massey; District Court 15-3-06 Timothy Arndt; and District Court 15-4-03, Joe Denham.

For Common Pleas judge, the Democrats are backing: Sarah Black, Judge Nicole Forzato, Sheriff Fredda Maddox, Tip McCabe, and Deborah Ryan, the current district attorney.

Voters will also decide who holds the county row offices.

The CCDC endorsed: Prothonotary Debbie Bookman and Register of Wills Michelle Vaughn, along with district attorney candidate Chris de Barrena-Sarobe, recorder of deeds candidate Diane O’Dwyer, and Kevin Dykes for sheriff.

“The Chester County Democratic Committee has successfully endorsed a full slate of candidates to run for Judicial and County seats in the 2023 election,” said Valyo. “The Democratic slate is representative of Chester County, the candidates are highly qualified, and will continue the Democrats’ record of governing responsibly for all Chester County residents.”

The GOP endorsed: Roy Kofroth for sheriff, Michael Taylor for prothonotary, Brian Yanoviak for recorder of deeds, and Shawn Mullen for register of wills.

The RCCC is continuing “to vet candidates for district attorney,” Terzian said.

At the beginning of the meeting, Terzian called for unity.

“We must come together and unite as one Republican Party in Chester County. Unity does not require complete concordance. Instead, it requires recognizing and embracing the goodwill of everyone.”

He noted that the upcoming election would be important for the quality of life in Chester County.

“The New Republican Party of Chester County is moving forward with renewed energy, fresh ideas, and an optimistic vision for the future. We aim for highly-qualified candidates who offer a solutions-oriented and common-sense approach to the challenges we face in our county,” he said.

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Chester County Democrats Welcome Fetterman, Shapiro, and Houlahan to Fall Dinner

From a press release 

A capacity crowd of nearly 250 enthusiastic Chester County Democrats on Monday attended the county committee fall dinner fundraiser at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern to hear from their party’s US Senate,  Governor and Congressional candidates. Chester County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte Valyo addressed the gathering and introduced speakers John Fetterman, Josh Shapiro, and Chrissy Houlahan.

According to Valyo, “The crowd was energized and thrilled to see Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman in Chester County. Fetterman spoke for about 20 minutes and focused on key issues and the clear difference between his positions and his opponent’s positions on abortion, gun violence prevention, and even overturning wrongful convictions. Lee and Dennis Horton also attended; they are the two brothers who served 28 years in prison for a crime they did not commit, and who John’s opponent Mehmet Oz is using in ads portraying them as felons released early.”

Chester County Democrats Fall Dinner


Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan and Attorney General Josh Shapiro further inspired the crowd with speeches that outlined the accomplishments Democrats have made in Chester County, the state, and the country, and provided their visions for our future. The candidates focused on the significant stakes in the upcoming November 8 election, contending their MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) Republican opponents are focused on taking away freedoms.

These were freedom to have your vote count. Freedom for women to make their own personal reproductive healthcare choices and decisions on when it is right for them to start a family. Freedom to love and marry who you want. Freedom to choose the books you want to read, including those representing true narratives of “history” and gender. Freedom to join a union where you work.

The candidates also criticized the Republican platform.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan Headline Chesco Democrats’ Spring Dinner Event

From a press release

On April 20, the Chester County Democratic Committee, under the leadership of Chairwoman Charlotte Valyo, welcomed member of the Democratic House Leadership Hakeem Jeffries to Chester County to present the keynote address at their annual Spring Event.

The evening also featured special guest Chester County’s own Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) and an appearance by Congressman Conor Lamb, who is running in the primary for the U.S. Senate.

Houlahan introduced her colleague Jeffries (D-NY), the Democratic House Caucus Chairman. She mentioned the need for the party to not give up any ground gained in historic trends since 2016, recognizing the “significant progress that Democrats have made at every level of government here in Chester County. That said, we cannot go backward and must continue to grow and fight for the Democratic majority.”

In a moving speech Jeffries gave a triumphant summary of significant accomplishments of the Biden administration, from a robust COVID vaccination program to economic stimulus and recovery, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and more. He touched on the dangers our country faces with divisiveness, and the need for us “as a people, not just a party, to stand together to protect our Republic.”

Chairwoman Valyo summarized the evening: “We were so moved that, as a county party committee, we were able to come together to hear from such an amazing array of Democratic leaders. Our committee time and time again has stepped up to the call of service, and I am so grateful. We are looking forward to a critical election year when we are going to elect Josh Shapiro as our next Governor and elect a Pennsylvania Democrat to the US Senate; the stakes are just too high. We are also so thankful to have Hakeem Jeffries come here to Chester County to rally the troops and prepare us for this upcoming election season.”

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VALYO: Republicans Unfairly Attacking Democrat’s Election Wins

In the past two weeks Chester County residents have been subjected to outrageous efforts by local Republicans and their far-right followers to subvert our free and fair election processes and to intimidate, and take over local offices they cannot win in free and fair elections.

Two weeks ago the Voters Services conducted a very informative program outlining the depth and complexity of security systems that ensure our county elections are both open and honest from registration through to certification. At the end of that presentation the “big lie” crowd shouted questions, insulted those they disagreed with and in some cases resorted to profanity.

Just a few days ago the Board of Elections was assailed by this same group making unsubstantiated claims that our county elections are corrupt and demanding a “forensic audit” such as the one done in Maricopa County, Arizona. It should be noted that audit, a farce done by a company with no election audit experience, did not find fraud.

The most recent assault on process and civility came when a group of 10 petitioners, led by Beth Ann Rosica, a leader of the anti-mask group Back to School, filed a petition claiming that the West Chester Area School District board violated the state constitution when it required masks in schools. The state Supreme Court, by a slim 4-3 margin, ruled Gov. Tom Wolf’s mask mandate unconstitutional.

The petitioners overlooked the part of the law that has given schools authority to make decisions concerning the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and parents.

The petition was presented to Common Pleas Judge William P. Mahon. He eventually issued a ruling removing board members Sue Tiernan, Joyce Chester, Kate Shaw, Karen Hermann and Daryl Durnel from the board for voting for masks. However, Mahon did not make his ruling on the merits of the case, but on what he felt was the district’s failure to respond to the petition in a timely fashion.

This past week he rescinded his removal order, agreeing the deadline was confusing. This will allow the case to go forward on its merits, which are non-existent in our view.

Why do we say this is a continued effort to win by threats and intimidation what could not be won at the polls?

In the 2021 board elections Rosica, who came in last in the most recent West Chester Borough mayoral election, and a group she helped form (Students First West Chester) fielded candidates in an attempt to take the board majority away from members she claimed were put in office by liberals and other leftists. Her goal was to “take back” the board in the name of concerned parents opposed to masks and the alleged teaching of “Critical Race Theory.”

One of their candidates, Stacey Whomsley, won a seat, but with 25 percent of the vote in a 5-candidate race. Chester, on the other hand, won with 63 percent of the vote and Fleming with 54 percent.

What we are seeing here is what has become the trademark Republican response to elections they clearly lost. They claim voter fraud or they resort to other means, including threats and intimidation and frivolous lawsuits, to overturn the results. In this case their view of democracy is 10 poor losers controlling who sits on an elected school board.

We are better than this in Chester County, and I hope voters who know better make every effort to go to register, go to the polls, get friends and neighbors to vote and stop this attack on our elections, the core of our democracy, and on our schools.

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